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‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’ brings a pop culture classic to life on stage at Theatre Aspen

Theatre Aspen's Hurst Theatre in summer.
Courtesy Theatre Aspen
Hurst Theatre, nestled in Rio Grande Park in Aspen

“Legally Blonde: The Musical” is coming to Theatre Aspen’s stage this month, with an energetic ensemble cast and an abundance of 2000s pop culture references.

The show is based on the 2001 book and movie, which follows Los Angeles sorority president Elle Woods on a path that defies the stereotype of a ditzy blonde. After an unexpected breakup — her boyfriend wants someone more “serious” as he heads to Harvard Law — Woods finds her own way into the Ivy League school with an impressive score on the LSAT and ultimately graduates top of her class with a promising legal career.

Director Michael Bello says audiences have a big appetite for “uplifting” narratives like this one. He also sees some parallels between the popularity of “Legally Blonde” and the success of a more recent (and similarly pink-hued) hit: “‘Barbie’ has allowed Elle Woods to come back into the cultural zeitgeist,” he said.

“You know, they’re two characters where the world is putting them in a very small box and telling them they can only be one thing,” Bello noted. “And both women go on these journeys to discover that they can be so much more than that.”

Bello says the positivity of “Legally Blonde” also fuels the actors through a lot of elaborate song-and-dance numbers — many of which require the stamina of an intense aerobic workout.

“As corny as it sounds, I think it's just joy,” Bello said. “It's been a really joyous rehearsal room, and the show is so fun that it's just been a dream to do and to direct and unpack.”

“Legally Blonde: The Musical” kicks off Friday and runs through July 27 at the Hurst Theatre in Rio Grande Park.

Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.